A woman sits in a tan-stained wicker chair, her eyes fixated in a zombie-esque manner on the television set nestled up in a corner between two pale white walls. The Spanish TV soap on display has her full, undivided, attention, and no matter what happens to the world around her, only the small universe inside of the suspended box counts for something. As I sit patiently waiting for my food to be ready, I notice this strange spectacle in the corner of my eye. She is sitting alone. I begin to ponder her story; where did she come from; where has she been?
Grassy green fields of daffodils and sunflowers atop hulking hills, like something out of The Sound of Music, manifest themselves in my mind, and, lying undisturbed in the middle, is a twenty-something year old woman with olive skin and long black hair caressing her face and ascending down to the ground parallel with her body. She is perched up on her side, with her long legs gently protruding outward from her luminously white dress as her elbow digs its way into the earth beneath, so as not to disrupt its continuing support of the hand that is holding her head. Between her thumb and index finger is a yellow sunflower that seems to be missing two or three petals, which upon further examination can be seen upon the ground directly beneath the hovering flower. Her somber gaze and wanting eyes make me wonder, has something made this woman sad? As I begin to approach her, the scene begins to melt away and I suddenly find myself standing in a decrepit doorway, its white exterior chipping off onto the weathered hardwood floor. Beyond the doorway is what seems to be an apartment, yet it would do better to classify it as a large closet containing a stovetop and a wash-sink. Only one lone yellow-lighted lamp is supplying the light for the room, but instead of a beaming light, it only achieves pools of ambient yellow that have become victims to the seemingly opaque shadows inhabiting the space. Within the confines of the brown adobe-style walls is a drab green love seat made of wool, complete with a shredded exterior that appears more to be a derivative of a night with a speed-crazy wilder beast than a lifetime of depressed environmental factors, and adorned with two pale pink pillows. On the couch sits a sobbing woman, wearing faded blue jeans and a dark black shirt, her head deep down into the palms of her hands, which are held up on top of her two legs. She looks to be in her mid thirties; her hair having lost its shimmer years before, and lines from a hard life displaying themselves gloomily upon her visible forehead. As her tears crash and explode against the bronze picture frame in her lap, her incessant sobbing pauses for a second and she asks herself in exasperation, "Why? Why? Why? I don't understand." I begin to walk forward, moving deeper into the dimly lit room. My eyes adjust to the lighting, or lack thereof, and the picture comes into focus. A family—son, daughter, husband, and a mother—their smiles radiating as they stand in front of a stone wall, which I assume to be from a vacation of some sort. I want to ask her what happened; I want to comfort her. Autonomously my arm extends, reaching for her shoulder, but the moment before I make contact, she freezes. In the same moment, as my hand lands upon her shoulder, she shatters like a porcelain statue. Pieces of her sullen face drop onto the couch and floor as a cloud of dust permeates the air. In complete horror, I begin to slowly back away, still facing the petrifying scene before me. The room seems darker, angrier, and the swirling air has become cold, despite the lack of windows within the apartment. I feel something rise against my heel as I back away, causing me to stumble. Like a rug pulled from under me, I begin to fall. Thoughts run back and forth through my head—what happened to this woman? What does it all mean?—then, as my skull cracks itself on the floor, darkness.
"Señor? Señor? Aquí es su comida."
In an instant, I jolt back to life and apologize to the woman holding my food. She looks at me quizzically, then walks away muttering something to herself as she proceeds to pick up plates covered in half-eaten portions of rice and various vegetables. As I leave the restaurant, I notice that the same old woman is still sitting there, her eyes fixated on the television screen without compromise. I don't understand why she is there; why she saturates herself with a fake reality. Her longing stare imbues me with a sense of wonder, but I realize that for all the wondering I could ever do, I will not find my answer. I exit and continue down the cracked sidewalk, the air embracing me with mystique, watching as people interact and forge moments with one another, each more fleeting than the last.